Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Lesotho in the Olympics


Chris Theko

The mountain Kingdom of Lesotho first participated at the Olympic Games in 1972 and has been able to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when they boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics along with almost other African Nations.

However, the country has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games. 

To date no athlete from Lesotho has ever won an Olympic medal. 

Over the past nine Olympic Games since their first, there have been nine flag bearers for the Games, except for the current games (Tokyo Olympic Games). This is because for the first time Lesotho had no athletes at the opening ceremony of the Games due to having only two athletes (marathoners) who qualified and will be competing later. 

Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) presented two athletes namely ‘Neheng Khatala Seutloali and Khoarahlana Seutloali who qualified to represent Lesotho at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games to be staged between July 23 and August this year under the women’s and men’s marathon categories scheduled to take place at the Sapporo Odori Park Tokyo, Japan.  

Seutloali won silver in the 2020 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and has a personal best marathon time of 2:11:04 (Olympic qualifying). He competed in the 2019 Cape Town marathon res: 2:11:04, 2019 Athletic South Africa (ASA) half marathon championships res: 7th 1:01:56, 2018 Warsaw half marathon res: 7th 1:04:40, 2017 Cape Town marathon res: 15th 2:22:11 and South Africa (SA) half marathon Championship res: 15th 1:02:04.

The two athletes become the lowest number of Lesotho athletes’ representative since the 1972 Munich Games where the country was only represented by one athlete and in recent years the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where the country had three athletes.

Motsapi Moorosi was the lone athlete to represent Lesotho at the first Olympic Games staged in the Munich 1972 Games over 100m and 200m, reaching the quarterfinals in the longer of the two events. 

The first female athlete from Lesotho to compete at the Olympic Games was Angelina Sephooa, she contested the 800m and the 1500m on the track at the Barcelona Games in 1972. 

The great majority of athletes representing Lesotho have done so in the athletics events. The country’s notable results in the sport came at the 2000 Games in Sydney with Thabiso Moqhali finishing 16th in the men’s marathon. He had previously finished 33rd in the same event eight years earlier at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. 

This year the country’s hopes rest on the shoulders of the Seutloali couple which left the country on Tuesday as their competitions are scheduled for 7 and 8 August 2021.

Khoarahlane said he has been waiting for the moment when he would represent his country at the Olympics and has worked hard for it since his qualification.

“I have been hard at work getting ready for this moment and believe I have prepared well enough.   

“Now that I am here, my target is to make my country proud in Tokyo so I am hoping for a podium finish in order to bring the first medal home,” Seutloali said.

Meanwhile, ‘Neheng echoed similar sentiments saying she has been preparing for this moment and looks forward to representing the country well. 

“I believe I am ready to represent the country well because I have prepared beyond enough,” she said. 

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